Visualization and Representation in STEM Learning

REESE PIs discussed topics such as supporting whole-class science investigations with spatial simulations, a PC-based interactivity tool for organic chemistry, visualization analysis and design, the transfer of perceptually grounded principles, alternative strategies for problem-solving, and fostering visualization research. Presentations of REESE research included:

  • Arthur Olson, Visualization and Representation in STEM Learning [PDF]
  • Melanie Cooper, OrganicPad: A Tool to Investigate the Development of Representational Competence in Chemistry  [PDF]
  • Robert Goldstone, Transferable Visualizations in Science Education  [PDF]
  • Thomas Moher, Embedded Phenomena: Supporting Whole-Class Science Investigationswith Spatial Simulations (SWISS)  [PDF]
  • David Rapp and Mary Schultz, Understanding the Unobservable in Science: A Multimethod Approach  [PDF]
  • Mike Stieff, Alternative Strategies for Problem Solving in Science  [PDF]

A PDF of the evaluation form for this session may be downloaded here.

About the Speakers

Arthur Olson holds the Anderson Endowed Chair in the Department of Molecular Biology at The Scripps Research Institute where he is founder and director of its Molecular Graphics Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. from University of California Berkeley in Physical Chemistry, and went on to Postdoctoral Research at Harvard University where he was involved in solving the first atomic resolution structure of an intact virus capsid in 1977. Dr. Olson is a pioneer in the analysis and visualization of biological assemblies His laboratory has developed, applied and distributed a broad range of molecular modeling and visualization software over the past 30 years, including AutoDock, which is the world’s most highly cited ligand docking program. In 2000 He started the first Internet distributed biomedical computing project, FightAIDS@Home, which is now running on over a million computers worldwide, and for which he was honored by resolution in the California State Legislature. He was awarded a Senior Fellowship to the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University in the U.K. in 2007 and served as Chair of the NSF sponsored 2009 Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science and Education in Oxford, U.K. His recent work on Tangible Interfaces for Molecular Science combines the technologies of computer-aided fabrication and augmented reality to create an environment for exploring and learning about the invisible world of molecular biology.

Melanie Cooper is the Alumni Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Clemson University. She received her B.S. M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Manchester, England, and she carried out postdoctoral work in organic chemistry before turning to chemistry education as her area of research. She has been a faculty member in the Clemson chemistry department since 1987, where she teaches general and organic chemistry and chemistry education courses. She was recently appointed Interim Chair of the Department of Engineering and Science Education, a department devoted to discipline-based education research. Her research has focused on methods to assess and improve students’ conceptual understanding and problem solving abilities and strategies, using interventions that promote metacognitive activity. An outgrowth of this research is the development and assessment of evidence-driven, research-based, curricula, for example: the NSF funded general chemistry curriculum, Chemistry life, the universe and everything, in which the principles of chemistry are developed within the context of the emergence and evolution of life on Earth. Melanie is a Fellow of the AAAS and is a member of the first class of American Chemical Society Fellows. She has received a number of awards for excellence in teaching.

Robert Goldstone is a Professor in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department and Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University. In 1991, he received a Ph.D. in psychology from University of Michigan. His research interests include concept learning and representation, perceptual learning, collective behavior, and computational modeling of human cognition. He was awarded two American Psychological Association (APA) Young Investigator awards in 1995 for articles appearing in Journal of Experimental Psychology, the 1996 Chase Memorial Award for Outstanding Young Researcher in Cognitive Science, a 1997 James McKeen Cattell Sabbatical Award, the 2000 APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the area of Cognition and Human Learning, and a 2004 Troland research award from the National Academy of Sciences. He was the executive editor of Cognitive Science from 2001-2005, associate editor of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review from 1998-2000, and associate editor of Cognitive Psychology and Topics in Cognitive Science from 2007-2010. He was elected as a fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists in 2004, and a fellow of the Cognitive Science Society in 2006. In 2006 he became a Chancellor’s professor and Director of the Indiana University Cognitive Science Program.

Thomas Moher is Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and also holds an adjunct position with the College of Education. For the eight years, his research has focused on the design and field-based evaluation of computational and interactive technologies intended to support learning in classrooms, particularly within the context of group or whole class activity. Most of his work has revolved around the use of technologies to deliver simulated phenomena that may be visualized, probed, and controlled by collections of students. His virtual ambient environments research investigated the use of large multi-user displays to create shared spaces for student investigations. His more recent work in embedded phenomena explores the learning opportunities associated with binding technology affordances to the environment to represent windows—simulated instruments or visualizations—into extended simulations of phenomena imagined to be unfolding in the physical space of the classroom. Dr. Moher has published over 50 refereed articles including the work in learning technologies as well as earlier work in cognition and programming and software engineering. His work is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.

David Rapp is an Associate Professor in both the School of Education and Social Policy, and the Department of Psychology, at Northwestern University. Comprehension involves a dynamic, interactive set of processes that includes 1) the activation of prior knowledge, 2) the use of that activated knowledge along with information in current focus to generate understandings beyond what was explicitly presented, and 3) the potential updating or revision of memory. Dr. Rapp’s program of research examines how these processes function both successfully and unsuccessfully during learning experiences. The goal of his work is to describe the complex interactions between learning processes and learning experiences that drive comprehension, and to influence those factors in the pursuit of best learning practices. His applications of this work have been funded by the Institute for Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute on Aging. He is currently coordinator of the Learning Sciences program at Northwestern University.

Mary Schultz is a Full Professor and former chair of the chemistry department at Tufts University. She has been working in the area of liquid interfaces for approximately fifteen years, publishing nearly 70 technical articles. In addition, she has published two chapters in technical books, written four papers on pedagogical techniques, and produced a textbook and ancillary material for teaching chemistry. She is particularly interested in the use of color and visual representations for communicating scientific ideas at all levels. Active in the scientific visualization field, she chaired the International conference on Visualization in Science and Education and has run several workshops on creating and using visual models for chemistry. Her current focus is on creating a quickly grasped, high impact visual representation of the cradle-to-grave cost of alternate modes for harvesting and using energy. Professor Shultz is in a leadership role in several organizations including the Council for Chemical Research, the Physical Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society, and the Telluride Science Research Institute.

Mike Stieff is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland-College Park. Dr. Stieff holds a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and an M.S. in Chemistry from Northwestern University. His research addresses three specific goals: identification of the task-specific use of visuo-spatial strategies in scientific problem solving, the development and evaluation of visualization software for teaching high school and college science, and the characterization of interactions between visuo-spatial ability and scientific expertise. In his research, he employs psychometrics, clinical interviews, laboratory-based experiments and classroom-based design research. He currently directs research projects that explore new theoretical frameworks regarding the role of visualization and diagrammatic reasoning at multiple levels of chemistry and the design of computer-based learning environments for teaching secondary chemistry.